World Meteorological Organization (WMO) spokeswoman Clare Nullis told a press briefing that most climate forecast models point to an El Niño warming that would persist into the first months of 2013.
While the onset of the phenomenon appears to have eased somewhat during September, experts say this doesn’t diminish the chance that it will soon strengthen and begin to disrupt global weather patterns.
The ocean warming is linked to drought in Australia, Southeast Asia and India, as well as flooding in parts of the Americas.
The most severe El Niño on record killed more than 2,000 people in 1997-98 and caused an estimated $33 billion in damage.
La Niña, the opposite, cool phase of El Niño, ended in April after being blamed for drought across parts of North America as well as other short-term global climate changes.